Book Review of “What Really Matters” by Karen M. Wyatt, M.D.
What Really Matters
Karen M. Wyatt, M.D.
Publisher: Select Books, Incorporated
Publication date: 2/21/2012
At the end of the day, what really matters in your life? If the end of the day is also the end of your life, would you have regrets? Author Karen Wyatt explores this question by turning to patients receiving hospice care. By definition, these people know that their lifespan is measured in hours, days, or weeks. They no longer have the luxury to believe that death is still far off.
What would it be like if you could apply their life lessons to your current life, while you still have the illusion of longevity (remember, nobody is promised tomorrow)? Would it make a difference in the way you live, conduct business, interact with strangers and family members, and make daily decisions that have far-reaching consequences? Although writing primarily from a Christian perspective, Wyatt also draws from a variety of spiritual traditions to underscore her points and observations.
She refuses to sugarcoat the inevitability of death, but in so doing she allows you to open your eyes to the world around you. Yes, you will die. And yes, you should live to the fullest right now. Can you do so while harboring resentment, anger, bitterness at your creator, and hostility toward others? No, probably not. It is here that the life lessons of the dying come in. An 81-year-old blind artist highlights that going blind led her to discover other artistic talents she never would have known she had. A 25-year-young AIDS victim teaches that relationships are essential and love can conquer all – literally.
There are also warnings. Consider that the strict adherence to healthy living principles does not guarantee longevity. Note that rigorous religious obedience does not mean you will not die an early, painful death. It is impossible to cheat death. The author warns that living with the intention of keeping death at bay is not the same as living with the intention to fulfill one’s destiny, love completely, and being a part of the deity’s bigger plan.
In “What Really Matters,” Wyatt does not hold back when it comes to discussing anger with God. She outlines that holding on to a form of religion for selfish reasons does not pay off. Doing it for the sake of becoming one with the deity, on the other hand, offers a more satisfactory outcome.
This is not an easy book to read. After all, you are taking a brief glimpse at the final days of a small number of people. It will make you sad. At the same time, Karen Wyatt uses the life lessons discovered by the dying to help you make changes in your life today. You have heard it said to live each day as though it were your last; well, Wyatt offers some suggestions on how to do it.
I highly recommend “What Really Matters” to readers of all faiths.
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